Games Inbox: Nintendo best first party games, Phil Spencer fan club, and Fall Guys cheating
The Friday Inbox worries about unfair criticism aimed at Halo Infinite developers, as a reader asks for help identifying a Mega Drive game.
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Kudos to Phil Spencer for his comments on Nintendo. It’s actually very rare to hear someone from another company praise someone else’s work and he’s one of the few that does it on a regular basis. Also, he’s right.
Imagine a games industry without Nintendo. An endless parade of shoot ‘em-ups and open world games that take themselves far too seriously and seem to think that colours are somehow unrealistic. You only have to look at the success of Fall Guys to see how even a fairly mediocre game can seem ground-breaking on a format that is only used to greyness and misery.
Of course Phil does have a vested interest in talking down Sony’s first party games but as good as they are they lack the variety and consistency of Nintendo. Almost all Sony’s games are third person story-based games and yet Nintendo not only has every genre covered but each one is a unique take, from Smash Bros. to Pikmin.
The day Nintendo stop making games is the day I stop playing them, and I say that as someone that usually tries to own all consoles before the end of a generation.
PS: Would love to see Phil’s island in Animal Crossing!
I just wanted to write in and say how relatable I find Phil Spencer, the head of Xbox.
I mean, I have always found him relatable to some extent, he wears T-shirts with various slogans under a jacket at events, that really sticks it to ‘the suits’.
But today, after reading how he has an Xbox Series X at home that he plays on ‘just like we will’, has really hit home just how much he has in common with us, the ‘average gamer’.
The ultimate relatable experience I have just read is that he puts batteries in his controller! I mean come on, that is just crazy, there I was just assuming that the head of Xbox would never have to change batteries in his controller. I presumed he would have some employee do it for him or, better still, just chuck away the controller when it runs out and open a new one.
I changed batteries in my controller this morning and gave a wry smile to myself as I thought, ‘I bet Phil is doing this exact same thing right now’ talk about relatable!
I was on the fence as to if I would buy the Xbox Series X at launch, but this has now made my mind up.
One of us
Count me as one of the people that think Phil Spencer has been a disappointment as the head of Xbox, in terms of the results he’s produced and the mess he’s making of the Xbox Series X. But a frontman for Xbox, and really the games industry in general, I think he’s excellent. He’s always saying complimentary things about his rivals and I get the feel that he really does like games.
I’m not even sure who the heads of Sony and Nintendo are at the moment, which says about all you need to know about that. Mark Cerny is the one Sony wheel out the most and even though he has made games in the past he doesn’t show any obvious passion or knowledge for them. I get the feeling that Phil Spencer plays everything he can, no matter what format, and understands games very well. Except… that doesn’t seem to be helping?
The Xbox line-up has been a big fat zero since he took over, it’s still dominated by Halo and Gears of War, and seven years later there’s still no sign of real change. So apparently all those positive qualities haven’t helped at all? Maybe being more hands off, and more of a straight businessman, is actually better. Which is kind of depressing really.
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Not quite there
I think some of the takes regarding Halo Infinite have been really unfair from some commenters. Yes, the showcase of the game was disappointing from graphics perspective, though I would say it wasn’t all bad. The actual design of the world and the colour pallet were great, just the lighting and pop-in were… let’s say noticeable, but it ran incredibly smoothly at double the frame rate and a higher resolution than what was shown of Ratchet & Clank. I thought it was a decent showing of the game itself, but the look needed a bit of work.
But regarding the delay, I’ve seen all manner of takes from poor management, cancelling the game outright, cancelling the new console, Xbox is doomed, Phil Spencer should resign, five years development, biggest ever budget blah blah blah and I think the one that really didn’t sit right with me was, ‘I don’t buy the coronavirus excuse’. This is seriously unfair when a team of 500+ developers, in an industry that is notoriously difficult with crunch, and especially in the final stretch of creation, are forced to co-ordinate efforts working from home.
The budget, the amount of time under development and the amount of creators can’t suddenly magic the game to completion. Cyberpunk 2077 has had multiple delays, one where the coronavirus was stated as the reason, The Last of Us Part 2 was delayed twice, Psychonauts 2 was delayed – games get delayed all the time and if ever there was an excuse for it to illicit sympathy for the game makers it should be a worldwide health pandemic.
Not only this but Phil Spencer even warned Halo Infinite could be delayed. Basically, the hardware is ready, the software isn’t quite. If you don’t fancy buying into the Xbox brand or don’t really like the look of Halo that’s fine, but these developers deserve far more respect than they are being given.
I had a half decent idea for a Reader’s Feature a while ago that would suggest a ‘reading list’ for games. My first question was, but for whom? Just regular players? Well, that would be okay but not enough. For critics, too and academics then. I then had the bizarre idea to look at everything from Pong to right now.
As you might guess, this was not going to be a feature. More like an encyclopaedia full of features. At least to make it interesting and not just a list of titles. And even if I just limit it to one genre, like say, platformers – it will still run on and on.
So, let’s really pare this back. As critics, is there like a short list of games that a prospective employee must have played and beaten in order to get hired by your good selves? Like, if a person says they’ve never touched Legend Of Zelda: Ocarina Of Time you would say: ‘Sorry, but you need to leave before we call security’?
GC: If they’re already a journo then maybe, but otherwise no – it’s the insight on what they have played that’s important.
Name that game
OK, this is a long shot but I need help identifying a Mega Drive game (I think) and was hoping GC or anyone could help, please?
I remember it being a bright and colourful, cartoony 2D side-scroller where you play as an orangey yellow… thing that would kind of waddle along picking up and stacking items in order to progress throughout the levels. I really don’t remember much about it other than it maybe having a kind of medieval/fantasy aesthetic and a pleasant and chilled guitar playing (or the Mega Drive equivalent) it absolutely was not ToeJam & Earl though. I know that for a fact as those games are inextricably still fresh in my mind.
I realise that this is a longshot given how little info I’ve… given but I’d appreciate all guesses, cheers.
GC: Hmm… that does seem like it should be enough information to make a guess but we’re coming up blank. Hopefully a reader can help.
I know I shouldn’t be surprised but people cheating at Fall Guys is just so pathetic. They’re probably kids, I imagine, but even so. It’s such a fun, silly game the idea of taking it so seriously you start hacking it with mods so that you can fly through it? Talk about a hollow victory.
Glad to see the game do well though and I hope this teaches Sony, and Microsoft, that cute, fun games can do well on something other than the Switch. I did initially think Sony was publishing this one but they’re not, they must’ve at least recognised its potential though, which is a good sign.
Catch up on every previous Games Inbox here
Always in motion is the future
Wow, I thought my letter on a digital vs. physical and the future was just a bit of musing, but some of the responses surprised me, especially in the Underbox comments.
Nostalgia is wonderful, I often indulge, but what the marketplace for games was like is pointless. We don’t live in that marketplace, we live in the here and now, and will hopefully be living in the future, and like everything in life things change. The situation in the future could be anything, and that’s where we are going to be doing our gaming, if we still want to.
With consoles made by particular companies, and their downloads controlled by those companies, there is no market to decide, you either buy what they offer or you don’t. At the moment you can buy a download code from a shop or online site that might be cheaper regarding a certain product, but what if the console company decides to stop honouring those codes in the future? Before you start saying hogwash and worse, remember, Microsoft, Sony, and the rest are not in this for your gaming experience, they are in it for the money, and they are the gatekeepers for their consoles, even more so for access to possible future online services.
Yes, PCs have an advantage at the present time, as general machines you can find many avenues to getting games on them from many sources, some more dubious then others. This doesn’t mean that this will continue. What if a future blockbuster insists on a certain framework being present or the game won’t work? Effectively locking you out unless your purchase is approved. Already Windows 10 will refuse to run certain games or devices that don’t fit its rules (recent inbox letter FoximusPrime81). You can live in a cave and run Linux or whatever, but Windows is Microsoft, the people that want your money, and most people will have Windows Series X or whatever silly numbering system they use in the future.
Regarding the Anon letter, if you get 50Mb then that’s fibre optic, even Sky only claim up to 11Mb with phone lines, and I’m only getting 1.9Mb as I type, 2.1Mb on a good day with the wind in the right direction. I just had to wait for my sister to finish doing her accounts online before I could refresh the web pages I was looking at! You can’t have a partial fibre option if the fibre optic cable doesn’t exist in the first place. Sky only offer a slightly better enhanced phone line option which my neighbours went for, and they told me it made no real difference at all, but of course cost them more money.
Well, that’s about it. Feel free to tell me why I’m wrong, a doom-monger, and the future is actually so bright that we all need to wear shades.
Spooky Dreamer (SpookyDreamBoo – gamertag)
If you log in now to the Bethesda launcher you get Quake 2 free and on the 17th August, for 72 hours, you can get Quake 3 Arena free too.
Typical price drop on the Capcom Home Arcade after my weekend feature. Still don’t think it will change Mrs Bullman’s mind. Thanks for the feedback on the feature.
NB: I’d prefer Star Wars arcade for our anniversary. Stand up with riser, not sit-down. Just in case Mrs Bullman reads this!
So… Halo Indefinite?
This week’s Hot Topic
The topic for this weekend’s Inbox was suggested by reader Grackle, who asks what franchises are you most looking forward to in the next gen?
With the next gen consoles almost upon us which long-running series are you most looking forward to getting a new sequel or reboot? What do you hope to see from the new game and how do you think the next gen hardware will help to change and improve it?
As long as it’s still an active franchise, that has had a recent new entry this gen, it doesn’t matter whether it’s been announced yet or not, so feel free to make assumptions about what will eventually be coming to the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5.
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The small print
New Inbox updates appear every weekday morning, with special Hot Topic Inboxes at the weekend. Readers’ letters are used on merit and may be edited for length.
You can also submit your own 500 to 600-word Reader’s Feature at any time, which if used will be shown in the next available weekend slot.
You can also leave your comments below and don’t forget to follow us on Twitter.
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